Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by Karn Belgard
It is nearly sunrise in my native Ozarks, and I stand alone in a small tributary of Roaring River, a handful of miles from where I was born. Sunlight breaks over the stream. A lark warbles her exquisite song. Glittering diamonds crowd the water, first marching in loose ranks on the carrying waves, then breaking apart in a chaos of light. Dawn's rosy-gold rays give them a blush that slowly turns to burning white-hot as the sun climbs higher in a cloudless sky. I flick my line again with a just-right wrist movement and watch as the filament drifts gracefully down to the water. I have my eye on a beauty - a big rainbow trout that's broken the surface twice in a defiantly elegant arch of body, daring me.
Suddenly the tug comes. Small at first, almost indiscernible. Then, stronger. Finally, a pull so hard it nearly surprises me, even expecting it as I was. I pull back and begin the dance we now share: pull, release, pull, release. Each time the trout thinks she is free, I give her more line until the right moment, then let her know, gently at first, that I am still in charge. With every return I bring her in a little closer.
She is tiring now, giving all she has left to the fight. But in the end, she is in my net. The multi-colored stripe against her beautiful silver side moves me with its vivid hue, and I know this fish has been navigating fishermen and rivers for a long time. I mercifully end her life and give thanks for the gift of her, as the one Cherokee ancestor I can claim would have surely done.
Karen Belgard was born and raised in the Ozark mountains, although she is a ‘transplanted native’ of southern California, having lived in San Diego for 43 years. Her love of nature is consistently reflected in her writing, as “Rainbow” illustrates.
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